CHINA'S SOFT POWER IN THE MEDIA: Reuters turned out two pieces on incoming President Tsai Ing-wen's policies and Beijing's responses to them. At least this piece By J.R. Wu does cite some people from the pro-democracy, pro-independence side, but the framing is entirely pro-Beijing. Meanwhile Ben Blanchard churns out a stenographic exercise in which Beijing gets to speak and the pro-democracy, pro-independence -- and let's not forget, pro-US -- side is silenced. The familiar formulae are all there -- Beijing "distrusts" Tsai (in the way that Hitler "distrusted" Benes) -- how does Tsai or Taiwan feel about Beijing? We'll never know... I do know, though, that history is not going to be kind to such media presentations...
I don't even know why Reuters bothers to write such pieces -- Beijing has Xinhua, it does not need Reuters.
The J. R. Wu piece is more interesting, for it quotes independence elder Koo Kwang-ming who nails Beijing:
"China's attitude on opposing independence is out of touch with the real situation," said independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming. "They really have no way (how to deal) with Taiwan, so they take what has been stated in the past and repeat, repeat and repeat it."Beijing isn't "tightening the screws". It is floundering for a policy (remember this?). It knows, even if the foreign media doesn't, that it has to interact with Taiwan if it wants to annex it without war. Each time it reduces interactions with Taiwan, it reduces its chance of peaceful annexation correspondingly. Hence it is repeating what it has always done, because that is all it knows.
The piece affords an excellent example of Beijing's soft power hard at work. First, we get the propaganda line from President Xi's own lips:
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in March China would never allow the historical tragedy of Taiwan being split from the rest of the country to happen again.This is pure propaganda: Taiwan was never "split from China" because it was never owned by China. It was merely a colony of the Qing Empire, which also owned China. Arguing that Taiwan split from China is like arguing that Kenya split from India because they were both part of the British Empire.
This reconstruction of the Qing as China and the Manchus as Chinese is purely twentieth century propaganda, a component of the nationalist themes of "century of humiliation" meant to channel Chinese nationalism outward towards foreign expansion rather than inward towards the CCP.
But lo! Despite the fact that the New Qing Studies have been a field in Sinology for two decades, much debated and discussed (it has even been officially attacked by Beijing), none of their critiques of imperial history and terminology as a mask for expansionism and imperialism has reached the international media. Instead, we get Reuters reiterating Xi's propaganda construction of the Qing as a Chinese dynasty as if it were actual history and as if no other way to think about the issues existed.
Japan ruled Taiwan as a colony for about five decades until the end of World War Two. China's last dynasty, the Qing, had ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after losing the first Sino-Japanese war.This adoption of Chinese constructions of Chinese history is China's soft power at work, so routine nobody even notices it. Hiding in plain sight.
Meanwhile, back at the farm...
SOME STUFF: I am not making this up: the criminal investigation bureau held a press conference to announce important findings: the three star signs most likely to be fraud victims. There's stupid, and then there's stupid on a government budget. Solidarity pointed out on Twitter that the three most affected star signs are all fall signs, likely indicating the popularity of timing children for the school schedule. Do'h. His post: here.
But in real science, there's a meteor shower this weekend...
The DPP takes a page from the KMT, and does its own diplomacy with a foreign power: the brother of Japanese PM Abe visits Tsai to help ease the tensions caused by Ma Ying-jeou's deliberately exaggerated reaction to the arrest of a Taiwanese fishing boat in a Japanese-claimed EEZ.
Josh Ellis, who takes marvelous photos, on the Miaoli County tourist trap, Shenghsing Station. Drew Kerslake's excellent old post on it from 2010. For an extra dose of way cool, there's a crowdsourced map of Japanese-era relics on Google Maps.
Taiwan bans Chinese singer for visa violations. Good.
Speaking of which, Drew Kerslake, who has been on a roll lately, has another great post on the decline of cycling in Taiwan. Lots of information in small entry. He compiles some links here.
Taiwan Law blog also responds to the Clarissa Wei story about the destruction of high mountain tea plantations.
Love Boat Taiwan: a documentary about a famous summer camp for Taiwanese-Americans is looking for funding.
Bob Sutter interviewed in the Diplomat on X-strait, US presidential candidates
It's 2016 and the US State Department is still talking as if it is 2003.
Apple Daily (Chinese): a used police scooter makes the news when it winds up being driven by ISIS.
TRUMP: And so Trump has locked up the Republican nomination, barring a revolt at the convention. Given the overwhelming electoral college advantage the Dems have over Trump, I don't see him winning. Get back to me in October if 100 electoral votes switch sides -- the Republicans themselves are split over him, and he lacks much appeal outside that bloc of racist, authoritarian voters who form the Republican core, which is not all that large. So I am not going to worry about what Trump means for Taiwan... yet. Although the schadenfreude dose from this will likely reduce my need for alcohol for the next few months.
And remember: the Republicans have spent decades building a party of authoritarians, as personality studies of voter blocs are showing. Trump is only the first -- having had Trump to tutor him, the next one will be smarter, smoother, more practiced, more fake... more popular.
If Clinton gets the nomination, look for Chelsea to make a Congressional run, perhaps as early as the next election cycle. She has the right pedigree and Wall Street connections, and she's worked in the corporate media. Ideal resume for an Establishment candidate.
What will Clinton mean for Taiwan? I expect Clinton is going to start out looking like Obama, but then veer toward Bush II in the early years of the first administration, before the idiocy that was Iraq, as China's belligerence discredits even its smoothest supporters in Washington...
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